Carlos Sainz makes Ferrari track debut as Scuderia begin 2021 with Fiorano testing
Ferrari's new 2021 signing getting his first taste of one of their cars at Fiorano; Scuderia's race-winning 2018 challenger being used for five days of testing with seven drivers; Charles Leclerc returned to action on Tuesday
By Matt Morlidge and James Galloway
Last Updated: 27/01/21 7:38pm
Ferrari's new 2021 signing Carlos Sainz kickstarted his career in red on Wednesday with a first appearance in one of the legendary F1 team's cars at Fiorano.
Sainz, who has joined Ferrari from McLaren as replacement for four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, started life with the Scuderia with an extensive debut in their 2018 car - completing more than 100 laps.
His father, the rally world champion who is also called Carlos, was there to watch on along with his new team-mate Charles Leclerc, who tested the three-year-old challenger the day before.
Ferrari are starting 2021 with a week-long programme at their testing track.
The highly-rated Sainz heralded his first day in famous red as "special".
"A day I will never forget!" he said. "One of the most special moments for me today was when I arrived at the circuit and I saw the Ferrari with my number 55 on it!
- Lewis Hamilton contract talks: Toto Wolff provides update
- Jenson Button to race for own team in Extreme E
"I was eager to jump in the car and that first installation lap was exciting. Then we got down to work and I am very pleased with how the day unfolded.
"We were able to get through an extensive programme and I was able to familiarise myself with the whole setup: the engineers and mechanics, the steering wheel, the procedures which are obviously a bit different to those on the car I drove last season.
"It was very nice to have my father there at such an important moment in my career. And I'd like to thank Mattia [Binotto, team boss], Laurent [Mekies, sporting director] and everyone at Ferrari for such a warm welcome and such a positive first day in the 2018 car.
"I am very happy and could not have wished for a better start."
Ferrari are aiming to bounce back this year after a dismal 2020, which saw them finish sixth in the constructors' standings.
On Tuesday, Sainz watched on in his new team colours as Leclerc also topped the century mark in the SF71-H with Ferrari saying he worked on "practice starts and work aimed at the new championship and pre-season testing".
Leclerc, who had been in Dubai and contracted coronavirus earlier this month, said: "Getting back in the car today was great, in fact it was brilliant!"
With F1's shortened three-day pre-season testing programme for the new 2021 cars not taking place until the middle of March, Ferrari are using this week at Fiorano to get drivers from across their programmes back up to speed after the winter break.
Sainz will continue on Thursday morning before Mick Schumacher, another Ferrari junior who is racing for Haas in F1 this year, takes over on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.
Britain's Callum Ilott rounds off the week on Friday afternoon. The 22-year-old Briton has been promoted to a test driver role at the famous Italian team this year.
Academy drivers Robert Shwartzman and Marcus Armstrong plus Giuliano Alesi, the 22-year-old son of former Ferrari driver Jean who is leaving the programme to race in Asia, each drove the SF71-H on Monday.